By Mark McConville
INCREDIBLE images have revealed a stunning houseboat that actually improves the environment around it.
Striking pictures show the beautifully-designed interior with a spacious kitchen and living area being flooded by natural light thanks to large windows.
Other photographs show the luxurious master bathroom and bedroom while there is even room for a wine cellar and cool underwater window.
Despite its impressive look the floating house, dubbed Houseboat H, was designed to improve and enrich the environment. The home’s most important feature is the floating islands suspended below the deck.
Floating island technology was designed to improve water quality and to create new habitats for aquatic life, thereby extending the shoreline. Made from recycled plastic material, the planters allow the roots of native plants to grow through and eventually extend into the water below, creating fish habitats.
A large window in the basement float of the house allows observation of the fish inhabiting these islands. Friendly bacteria colonize in the plastic material, feeding on excess nutrients in the water to discourage suffocating algae growth.
The houseboat is the work of architect Michelle Lanker and her husband Bill Bloxom who explained how houseboat culture has always included responsible stewardship of lakes and waterways.
“While passive eco-friendly design was incorporated through deep eaves for shade provided by roofs and single story spaces with many windows for ventilation, as these houses have aged and have needed upkeep many have still not embraced the technological side of environmental design,” explained Michelle.
Michelle and her team believe that Houseboat H is the best of both worlds as it respects and celebrates the beauty of the lake aesthetically and ecologically while incorporating the benefits of cutting edge technology.
Michelle and Bill lost the original, 100-year old houseboat structure to fire. Although the structure itself was destroyed, the old-growth cedar logs which formed the traditional float for the original home were surprisingly well-preserved.
The salvaged logs were dried and processed and incorporated into the interior of the home, including a dramatic curved ceiling in the bedroom and other built-in elements.
With stunning view of Lake Union and the Seattle city skyline, Michelle and her team chose opening glass NanaWall systems in the living room and master bedroom to dissolve the barrier between indoors and out.
The NanaWall WA67 opening glass walls fully retract to allow interaction with the lake, a vital component of houseboat life. When closed, the aluminium cladding and performance sills are engineered to perform in heavy wind and rain environments, protecting against heat loss, water penetration and air infiltration.
Sustainability reigns supreme throughout the home’s design and construction, and the sheer number of features is staggering. The walls and the roof are designed with maximum insulation thicknesses and minimum air leakage.
The exterior materials have been chosen for minimum maintenance and maximum durability. Unlike traditional houseboats, there is no wood cladding on the exterior to insure against corrosion and weathering.
The exterior cement fibre wall panelling is installed as a rain screen system to prevent any possible moisture infiltration. Two-thirds of the roof is covered by a 5.32 KW solar array, installed over a standing seam metal roof. The final third curved portion is a vegetated roof system to help further insulate the interior space.
A titanium plate with an 800 lineal foot transfer fluid coil loop is attached to the west side of the deck structure and extends into the water to collect heat from the lake.
An 80-gallon storage tank supplies hot water for the household and the polished concrete heated flooring. LED light fixtures and electric systems and appliances throughout the house ensure an essentially net zero energy use since the water heater – which also provides a boost of heat during cold months – is powered by the electricity generated from the solar array.